What is Nonduality
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Nonduality.com - An Introduction
by Jerry Katz
One day in 1997 I was shown how to use the Internet and a search engine. The first term I looked up was nonduality. I saw nothing that came close to my vision for nonduality, a vision that enjoyed all forms of expression from all kinds of people. without orbiting around a single sage or tradition.
I had no teacher, no tradition, no guidance, and nothing to lose. Although the domain name nonduality.com was not purchased until about a year later, the spirit of Nonduality.com started in November 1997.
Cross a bridge to 2007. In that year I was a guest with Rollye James on Coast to Coast AM radio show and talked about nonduality to an audience of 2 million. That is the largest audience ever to hear the word nonduality spoken and discussed.
The purpose of this website has always been to consider the varieties of expression about nonduality and to make nonduality as easy as possible to approach and understand.
When this website was started in 1997, few heard of nonduality. At that time the vision was stated that there would eventually be so much about nonduality available online that no one would be able to keep up with it all. The vision came to pass after a few years.
Nonduality.com is still a great place to begin your search. You will stumble upon many good things. Because "stumbling" is so important, there are no suggestions on how to carry out your search. Just start or continue somewhere and somehow.
Where's nonduality as a spiritual and cultural movement headed? It's becoming more and more popular. There will be more incorporation of the word nonduality into peoples spiritual and psychological work and into everyone's conversations, more online publications, more online activity of all kinds, more MeetUps, more gatherings, more conferences, more public relations, more nondual perspectives identified and developed.
Nonduality is headed to the major mainstream. When? I'm writing this in late 2010. It could be any day, literally. It wouldn't surprise me to see the major mainstreaming of nonduality in 2011.
The teaching of nonduality has always been around and always will be. There's no danger of losing it. There is a danger that the current explosion in the dissemination of the teaching will lose credibility and that it's momentum will be redirected toward spiritual and cultural fashion.
I'm starting to see it happen as I write this in late 2010. People are jumping onto the nonduality bandwagon. They're glossying-up nonduality. They're "getting" nonduality overnight, it seems, and starting major websites and publications. Most of those efforts won't last long. The creators will burn out or sell out to spiritual fashion or wake up to the futility of what they're doing and not be able to handle it. I've seen it happen to the best of contributors to the online nonduality scene. But are things futile? No. They're just what they are. They're not even that.
Therefore, I have to extend my vision. Yes, nonduality will continue to expand and it will become known through major media probably during 2011. By 2014 there will be a major and almost spontaneous burnout. Many players will disappear. We'll return to a form of nonduality that was common prior to 2003, prior to the advent of blogging. Out of that a new kind of popularity will emerge, and the cycle of popularity will begin again using new technology, new teachers, new forms of expression.
So what can you do? Enjoy it! That's what I'm doing.
What is nonduality?
Nonduality means "not two" or "nonseparation." It is the sense that all things are interconnected and not separate, while at the same time all things retain their individuality. An awareness of nonduality gives you a bigger perspective on life, a greater sense of freedom, and brings you a more stable happiness.
Why do we need to know about nonduality? How is it helpful?
The word nonduality is commonly seen in the spiritual press and blogs. Nonduality bears on quantum physics, movies, education, psychology, ecology, sexuality, art, music, dance, organizational theory, and many other fields. A knowledge of nonduality can change the way we look at ourselves and the world. That change is in the direction of a unified perspective. This perspective, if pursued, is found to go far and deep.
The Perception of Nonduality
If you have ever had a sense or experience of "something" deeper and more meaningful that lies beyond the everyday you, yet that is you in some way, you have had a taste of nonduality.
The taste of nonduality is the sense or experience of unity, peace, "something" vaster than the everyday you. The taste may be known through an experience in nature, from music or art, from being deeply involved in a hobby or work, from being in the "zone" during an athletic event, from sex, a walk in the park, dance, surfing, having a few beers, or other social interaction.
It may be known in meditation, Yoga, any other spiritual practice, a near death experience, while driving your car, or in the midst of any activity, or for no apparent reason at all.
If you have ever felt deeply dissatisfied, intensely unhappy, psychically imprisoned, it might be said that you can only feel this dissatisfaction because part of you knows there is a place of freedom. That freedom is the experience of nonduality. Your unhappiness may be viewed as the hunger for the taste of nonduality, nonseparateness.
The Pursuit of Nonduality
After experiencing or sensing the taste of nonduality, you may begin to pursue nonduality. Your pursuit may take you to books, teachers, ashrams, India, Internet groups. You may engage spiritual practices, attend meetings with nondual teachers, go on retreats.
Since you are not separate from the "something" that is deeper, vaster, more meaningful than the everyday you, it follows that this pursuit is the discovery of who you really are.
For whatever reason you are here, congratulations on discovering nonduality and looking beyond the everyday you.
Some short descriptions of what nonduality is:
"The concept, often
described in English as "nondualism," is
extremely hard for the mind to grasp or visualize, since
the mind engages constantly in the making of distinctions
and nondualism represents the rejection or transcendence
of all distinctions."
What is meant by
does not mean "one" in the sense of eliminating
all differences. The differences are present in the one
in a mysterious way. They are not separated anymore, and
yet they are there."
Sanskrit means "Non-Duality." This is a
difficult concept for most people as we look about us and
see multiple objects. But what we see are only
transformations not permanent forms, whether we are
speaking of a chair, a tree, or a human being. Each
exists provisionally, but is certainly not lasting. One
day the tree may become the chair and the human body will
be eaten by worms. The "I" that observes all
this may disappear and become another "I".
Lama Yeshe: When you contemplate your own consciousness with intense awareness, leaving aside all thoughts of good and bad, you are automatically led to the experience of non-duality. How is this possible? Think of it like this: the clean clear blue sky is like consciousness, while the smoke and pollution pumped into the sky are like the unnatural, artificial concepts manufactured by ego-grasping ignorance. Now, even though we say the pollutants are contaminating the atmosphere, the sky itself never really becomes contaminated by the pollution. The sky and the pollution each retain their own characteristic nature. In other words, on a fundamental level the sky remains unaffected no matter how much toxic energy enters it. The proof of this is that when conditions change, the sky can become clear once again. In the same way, no matter how many problems maybe created by artificial ego concepts, they never affect the clean clear nature of our consciousness itself. From the relative point of view, our consciousness remains pure because its clear nature never becomes mixed with the nature of confusion.
Noted scholar Georg
Feuerstein summarizes the advaita realization as follows:
"The manifold universe is, in truth, a Single
Reality. There is only one Great Being, which the sages
call Brahman, in which all the countless forms of
existence reside. That Great Being is utter
Consciousness, and It is the very Essence, or Self
(Atman) of all beings."
Q: Again, rather technical. Perhaps there's a more direct way to talk about Nondual mysticism?
KW: Across the board, the
sense of being any sort of Seer or Witness or Self
vanishes altogether. You don't look at the sky, you are
the sky. You can taste the sky. It's not out there. As
Zen would say, you can drink the Pacific Ocean in a
single gulp, you can swallow the Kosmos whole--precisely
because awareness is no longer split into a seeing
subject in here and a seen object out there. There is
just pure seeing. Consciousness and its display are
If you wish to explore further descriptions of nonduality, look at our What is Nonduality pages.
Welcome to the world of nonduality. If I can be any assistance to you, please write me:
I also give talks on basic nonduality and am available for interviews in all media and for general audiences.